Wednesday, 2 December 2020
Parramatta Electorate: Youth Employment Innovation Challenge
Last week, I hosted an online forum for young people in my electorate and I heard from a diverse and amazing group of people with different cultural backgrounds, interests and goals but all ready to take their place in the world and looking for a path to a future. Two main themes emerged in the discussion: young people in Parramatta are worried about finding secure employment, and young people want their voices to be heard by government and decision-makers. If any group in our society at the moment should be heard, it's young people, the people whose lives will be different than yours and mine, who will live in a world with different employment relationships, different community relationships, different global engagements, completely different than the world we lived in. They're ready for that world and ready to take their place. By not listening to them and providing a space for them, we waste an extraordinary opportunity to rebuild this country in the way it needs to be for these people in the future that they will live in.
I met a young woman called Fibha, a university graduate who lost her job at the beginning of the pandemic. Despite her qualifications, when she went to a job services provider, she was told to apply for pick-and-pack roles. There's nothing wrong with packing boxes—I've done it and many of us probably have—but Fibha wants to use the skills she has worked so hard to obtain to make a contribution to society, and she left those meetings feeling that the job services provider had no interest at all in matching her to a job that was suited to her skills and qualifications. She felt really let down and she felt there were no opportunities for young people like her to raise their concerns beyond the organisation itself.
If you're looking for an organisation that really does work with young people where they are and prepare them for life ahead, it's an organisation called batyr. It's a not-for-profit organisation that works to break down the stigma around mental health and encourages young people to have honest conversations about mental health. It has been running a pilot program in Western Sydney and the Central Coast funded under the department of industry's Youth Employment Innovation Challenge in 2018, but its funding is almost at an end. It ends in November, and there is no guarantee of further funding. I just want to point out that this program is incredibly successful for young people aged 15 to 24. It has a workshop and then it pairs them with a mentor and it really makes a difference. It's twice as effective as the jobactive service in getting people back into jobs or training. It has a 59 per cent success rate compared to a 26 per cent success rate, and it's cheaper, at $1,500 per participant. For $1,500 with this wonderful organisation called batyr, 59 per cent of young people end up back in work or studying. What an extraordinary result. I really urge the government to consider how they might keep funding this program.